City Baseball Finals : Venice Goes for Its Third Title in Row
Venice, a team that was expected to be in this spot, and Huntington Park, a team that wasn’t even supposed to win its league championship, will play for the City 3-A high school baseball title today at 4 p.m. at Dodger Stadium.
The 4-A title game between Grant (19-5) and Granada Hills (17-5) will follow at 7:30.
Venice, the two-time defending champion, is 26-5 and has more than lived up to its No. 1 ranking in the playoffs this year, having won its last three games by scores of 5-1, 13-1 and 20-2.
Coach Jerry Marvin of Palisades was so impressed with the Gondoliers’ 18-run semifinal victory over his team that he said, “If there is a better team in the City, I haven’t seen them, and that’s in any division.”
Venice will have one of the Western League’s co-Most Valuable Players on the mound in today’s starter, Armando Gomez, who has a 13-1 record. He shared that honor with teammate Chico Garcia, a pitcher-designated hitter who is 5-2 on the mound and is 6 for 13 at bat the playoffs with 2 home runs and 8 runs batted in. Venice shortstop Eric Crawford has gone 7 for 9 with 2 homers and 5 RBIs.
“We’ve been expected to win, and there has been a lot of pressure because of it,” Venice Coach Jeff Shimizu said. “One difference, though, is that there is a lot of experience on this team. I’ve got some guys who have been there (the title game) before, and that makes so much difference.”
In the 4-A game, Granada Hills will have at least one thing in its favor. Coach Darryl Stroh has never lost in the six times the Highlanders have reached the championship game. Tonight, he will send Sean Casey (11-4) against Grant’s Rodney Beck, a returning All-City selection and two-time East Valley League MVP who has a 12-1 record this season. Both pitchers are 3-0 in the playoffs.
Brooks Hurst, who during his five years at Crenshaw coached future major leaguers Darryl Strawberry and Chris Brown, as well as several other players who were drafted, is looking to get back into coaching, preferably in the Westside area. “I never thought I was through with it,” said Hurst, who retired in 1982. “There are a lot of rewards there, and I’ve been around the game since I was a kid. Sometimes you just have to go outside the door and see exactly where you are living to really appreciate it.” Hurst played for Venice in the early ‘60s. . . . A retirement dinner honoring Jim Cheffers, who has been with the Los Angeles Unified School District since 1951, with the athletic department since 1963 and has been director of the City Section since 1972, will be held Friday night at the Elks Lodge in Long Beach at 6:30. Norm Schachter, a former NFL referee and City administrator, will emcee, and Mike Garrett, who played for Cheffers at Roosevelt, is expected to attend. For reservations, call (213) 742-7257. . . . Basketball star Scott Williams of Hacienda Heights Wilson had his jersey, No. 54, retired last Monday at Puente Hills Mall in ceremonies that also included the presentation of rings to Wilson players by Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights) for winning the state Division II championship.